Republicans Partner With Democrats To End Failed 'Kansas Experiment'

Kansas lawmakers overrode the governor's veto to hike taxes after massive cuts left the state unable to fund basic programs.
Posted at 9:09 PM, Jun 07, 2017

After years of some of the most aggressive tax cuts in the country, the so-called "Kansas Experiment" has ended.

Republican state representatives joined with Democrats in overriding Kansas governor Sam Brownback's veto on tax reform measures.

In 2012, Brownback approved cuts that dropped the tax rate to 2.6 percent for married couples who filed jointly and earned $30,000 a year or less. Couples making more than $30,000 paid 4.6 percent.

Unmarried taxpayers earning less than $15,000 paid 2.6 percent, and those making above $15,000 paid 4.6 percent.

The experiment was praised by conservatives across the country, including then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He said the reforms were "exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington."

The cuts aimed to boost small business growth, but ended up cutting Kansas' income tax revenue by nearly a quarter for 2014. That would have underfunded the state by a projected $900 million over the next two years.

Eventually, the state Supreme Court ruled the school funding levels were unconstitutional. Now, lawmakers seem to have conceded that the experiment failed.

Even though much of his own party rejected the plan, Gov. Brownback remained defiant.

"In my estimation, I think the tax policy move last night in the legislature was the wrong move. I think it's wrong for the long term — of you, of the state of Kansas. I think it's wrong for growth," Brownback said at a press conference.

Starting in 2018, tax rates will go up slightly, though not as high as they were before the "Kansas experiment" began.